Life Skills for Children A-Z – N is for Negotiation

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we seem to spend a lot of time negotiating. We negotiate when we:

  • want something;
  • want something but it’s clear to us we are unlikely to get it;
  • want to persuade someone over to our view point;
  • suspect we may be wrong about something;
  • can get what we want short-term but in the long-term may lose out.

The ability to be a good negotiator becomes the ability to make ourselves winners.


Every day of our lives we meet other negotiators of varying skill levels. Without exception, they are determined to win us over (whether it’s a stranger, brother, best friend or spouse). If we’re lucky, they’ll go for a win:win scenario and everyone is happy but, more often than not, people outside our immediate circles will go for the kill and that means we end up losing.

Having the skill to negotiate well will provide your child with an enormous advantage. As with most life skills, giving your child opportunities to “practice” negotiating with you and their siblings at home, will provide him/her with the tools and confidence to do it out in the real world.

Here are a few simple ideas to get them off to a good start:

Walk the Talk

If you’re a regular at CANDo you’re might be getting a bit fed up with this saying but I’m sooo not going to stop using it because ‘walking the talk’ is one of the best tools in a parent’s toolbox when it comes to teaching children life skills. Do it yourself and your children will observe you doing it and mimic your behaviour.

Let Them Solve Their Own Problems

Set up opportunities for your children to negotiate. When our “little Johnny and Jane” were fighting over which film to see at the cinema one Saturday, rather than wade in and make the decision, we decided to use it as a “learning” opportunity. We explained to them that they needed to negotiate and decide between them or they couldn’t go and see anything at all. We then stepped back. Five minutes later they came to us and explained that they were going to see “little Johnny’s” film but that next time “little Jane” was going to decide. We gave them the opportunity to negotiate between them something that was acceptable to both and that’s exactly what they did.

Help Them Develop Their Reasoning

If they want a new bike, toy or simply to stay up later, ask them questions and make them think about how, what, when and/or why – make them “reason” with youWhy should you be allowed to stay up later? What will you do in return to earn the toy if I buy it for you? How do you plan to raise the money for the bike?

Teach them Confidence

Successful negotiators are usually confident in their abilities and the reasoning behind their arguments. Raise your children to be confident in themselves and their views/opinions. Give them opportunities to gain positive experiences along with encouragement and feedback to nourish their self-esteem.

Teach them that Failure is Often the Road to Success

They will fail. No one wins every negotiation. Teach them that every successful person fails sometimes and, more importantly, that it’s okay! What makes the difference between a failure and a success is not whether they fail, it’s whether they learn from the failure and try again. Teach them to learn from failed negotiations so they can do it better next time.

Has your child ever astounded you by negotiating for something particularly well? Why not share it with us on a CANDo email or in the comments below?



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One Response to Life Skills for Children A-Z – N is for Negotiation

  1. Det Nilam July 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    Cool, is there a mailing list here?

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